City Clerk refuses to comply with ordinance

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City Clerk Lynn Fazekas contributes to the City Council meeting Monday night.

Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — City Clerk Lynn Fazekas said she won’t be complying with an ordinance ordering the city clerk to share the city seal with the executive assistant to the city manager.

The ordinance, which passed five to two at Monday night’s City Council meeting, also keeps the position a part-time elected role and eliminates the deputy clerk position. The duties of the deputy clerk would then be assigned to the city manager’s executive assistant, currently Ruth Scott.

First Ward Alderperson Carolyn Morris and Fifth Ward Alderperson Scott McAdams voted against the ordinance’s second reading.

“I believe this solution degrades the role of clerk which I believe the community has made clear they did not want through referendum,” Morris said.

Issues revolving around whether or not to keep the clerk position elected or appointed, the clerk’s use of the city seal and office hours of the clerk have been the center of attention at council meetings since early June.

Fazekas said the vote from the City Council was not unexpected.

“The ordinance and the matter of the seal particularly is illegal and specifically unconstitutional, and I will not comply with that illegal ordinance,” Fazekas said. “I’m fighting this fight precisely because I feel I have a mandate from the general public.”

Fazekas said she doesn’t plan on sharing the City seal with Scott when Fazekas is absent in the office despite the ordinance that was passed.

Fazekas filed a complaint with the DeKalb Circuit Clerk regarding the issue on Tuesday, according to court records.

The complaint states that the ordinance is unlawful and unconstitutional because changes the city’s governance requires a referendum before passing an ordinance according to Article seven, Section six of the Illinois Constitution.

The only council member to speak during discussion and debate on the ordinance was Morris. She said the city hasn’t demonstrated the harm of the current situation, and she doesn’t see how it’s possible to identify a solution.

Former City Clerk Steve Kapitan said the ordinance is unnecessary, specifically its dealings with the city seal and the structure of the office.

“The conflict over the seal has been used to change the structure of the office, which I believe is inappropriate,” Kapitan said. “The best way to approach this, rather than passing an ordinance, would be to sit down with the parties – as was embarked upon by Morris – and then truncated with the introduction of this ordinance.”

Former mayor Bessie Chronopoulos said the passing of the ordinance is unacceptable. She said it undercuts the purpose of the City Clerk’s office, and she wishes Morris could have gotten more time to come up with a resolution instead of the revised ordinance.

Other business

An ordinance that authorizes NIU’s annual contribution for integrated transit services was passed on its first reading with six votes. Third Ward Alderperson Tracy Smith recused himself due to his relationship with the Voluntary Action Center.

Based upon the total cost of over $5 million of the whole transit system, the anticipated NIU contribution for FY20 is $2.1 million. This specifically involves the services provided by Transdev and the Huskie Line. In FY19, NIU was responsible for $2.5 million toward the transit costs.

Based on the Intergovernmental Agreement between DeKalb and NIU, this is the first year the university will be contributing only 40% of the total costs of anticipated transit services, according to the Oct. 14 City Council agenda. In previous years, the minimum amount of money NIU contributed was 40%.

The $2.1 million goes toward transit services that operate on and off campus. A small portion of the money provides funding for [VAC] which operates the NIU paratransit services.

There was no discussion and debate on this ordinance.


Editor’s note: This story was updated 10 a.m. Oct. 17 to include the complaint Fazekas filed.